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Russia says Georgian troops must go

July 19, 2008 at 3:03 PM

MOSCOW, July 19 (UPI) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says that for peace talks to work, Georgia must remove its troops from Abkhazia's upper Kodori Gorge.

Medvedev made the comments Friday evening in a meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is heading a United Nations group seeking to ease tensions between Georgia and Abkhazia, RIA Novosti reported.

Kremlin officials released a statement after the meeting saying Medvedev "stressed that the only way out of the current situation is to adopt joint documents obliging the sides to refrain from violence and guaranteeing security, and for Georgia to withdraw its troops from the upper part of the Kodori Gorge."

Another sticking point for Russia is that Germany's plan for resolving the conflict includes the return of about 250,000 Georgian refugees who fled Abkhazia in the 1990s.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that while the German plan showed promise, he dismissed as "unrealistic" the return of Georgian refugees to Abkhazia, the Russian news agency reported.

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